Pending Business: The Aftermath of Ian

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — It’s about a three-hour drive, a little less than 200 miles from my home base, to Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

As we experienced strong winds and heavy downpours, Hurricane Ian destroyed most of Fort Myers Beach as well as other communities on Florida’s west coast. Ian tore a devastating path that continued through Orlando and into the Carolinas. Damage estimates are already over $60 billion, the death toll in Florida at 48 and still climbing. Ian is the worst storm in Florida history.

Most radio stations have some level of back up emergency power. One radio station I supervised had a fully equipped, alternative roof-top broadcast facility. But sometimes the fury and intensity of 155 mile per hour winds and storm surge are just too much for and traditional broadcast equipment to handle.

Ian, Wilma, Katrina, Andrew, to name a few, all caused most radio stations in the direct path of the storm to go silent and stop the critical emergency announcements while causing billions in damage and costing many their lives. But after all the horrific devastation, there’s a good chance those same, committed radio stations will be the communities’ first means of contact. When the sun shines and begins to light the way to a difficult recovery, sometimes that battery powered radio is cranked up broadcasting critical information to serve a devastated listenership.

I’ve been through too many of these here in Florida. It is with a shout-out of support for all who are working their way through this that I offer real-world takeaways for radio sellers during this time:

  • Compassion is critical. Be transparent and realistic about the needs of any advertiser from payment terms to copy changes.
  • Think long term. Some businesses will never be the same. Some will be with you for the long haul. Have your game plan ready.
  • Price gouging. Be careful. Not every opportunity is right. Pop-up businesses can be deceiving.
  • Your programmers may give important businesses in your community an important platform to share information, food, fuel, cash at ATM machines, medical, etc. Yield to your programming teammates.
  • New rules. Some radio stations may decide to change programming and sales protocols. Stay flexible and in contact.

This is the time when competition takes a back seat to character and compassion.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: